Thanks a lot for giving us so many good moments throughout the past four years. We are grateful for what you have done in last few years for Mohun Bagan. We saw you first when you came here to play as a part of Dhanmundi. So what's the difference between playing for Dhanmundi and Mohun Bagan?
Sony Norde : Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain myself. Playing for Mohun Bagan has always been a pleasure for me. Dhanmundi is big team from Bangladesh. I played for Dhanmundi in Bangladesh League. We got so many good moments. We won the league and Independence cup. After that when I came to India, I won I-League and Federation cup with Mohun Bagan. But it’s different because playing for Mohun Bagan feels like playing in Europe because of so much love and respect received from so many supporters. I think playing for Mohun Bagan has been like a dream.
When you came to Mohun Bagan you won the I-League in the very first season and then the subsequent season you won the Fed Cup. You played the Derby as well. So what was your feeling before playing the first Derby?
Sony Norde: I could only understand the importance of the I-League win when I saw the celebration of the Bagan supporters in Calcutta. In my first derby match, the team’s performance was not too good. I had expected to win but we drew the match 1-1. Pierre Boya scored the goal. For Bagan fans, winning a derby is everything. Even if it wasn’t a win, the support received from supporters surprised me. Such emotions can only be seen in big leagues of big countries.
Whenever we speak of derby that famous celebration comes up. Was it premeditated?
Sony Norde: The moment when I scored that goal in Siliguri, that was a dream come true for me. Even after playing many derby matches, I had not been able to score. I made assists but I never scored. And then my son was born. He was just two to four months at the time of the match. Before going to play, I saw my son run like that and my wife asked me to score and celebrate my goal in the way our son ran. So that celebration on scoring the goal in Siliguri was just dedicated to my family. I am glad that the supporters liked it so much. They still ask about that moment. It was a great moment. But it does not mean that Sony wants to hurt anyone. Sony loves and respects all supporters.
You started for Mohun Bagan as number 16 but you changed to number 10 and then to 50. Is there any specific reason or personal choice?
Sony Norde:When I came to Mohun Bagan for the first time, Debashish and Srinjoy had come to Bangladesh to sign me. I was using number 10 at that time in Dhanmundi. So when they asked me to join Mohun Bagan I wanted to use number 10. But Katsumi had that number and he was fan favorite. I respected that and chose to play with number 16. After Katsumi left, I started using number 10. I liked playing with number 10 because I was playing in Argentina before also with the same number. When you play with number 10 that means you are the main player of the team and you have to take responsibility of everything in the team. I hoped I would do well with this number because I already had played two seasons with number 16. So I hoped this number 10 would give me some success for Mohun Bagan. When I returned after recovering from my knee injury, I chose the number 50 as again Henry was using number 10. There was no personal reason or something like that. I just used the number 50 because nobody had used the number before.
You have been playing in India for almost close to five years and you have played for I-League clubs as well as ISL club Mumbai City FC. So, how do you compare both the tournaments? Is it entirely different quality or is just the same only the different set of players?
Sony Norde: From the beginning of 2015 when I started playing for Mumbai City, many supporters have asked me same question. I think it has been more difficult to play the I-League than ISL so far and I-League is more competitive. ISL has a lot of facilities. Playing with all the facilities becomes easier. So I believe any player comes to play I-League and you have success means you are so good. You can take any player from ISL if you bring him here for I-League it will be difficult for them to play. For example – Mendy. He was signed for East Bengal. Everyone thought that he would be great but we know the rest. I am very happy to play for Mumbai City and Mohun Bagan. If they keep me next season I can give my best.
So you have come across many Indian footballers these 5 years. So how did you rate the Indian football? Is it developing from what you have seen in 2014 and what you are seeing now or do you have any other viewpoints on Indian football from 2014 to now?
Sony Norde: I think Indian players have improved a lot. If you see the national team playing in the Asian Cup they were playing very good. And if you have seen the match of India against Thailand, it was wonderful game from every Indian player – Udanta, Chettri, Jeje all these players, they have progressed so much. That means Indian football has become more competitive and much better. So I hope in the upcoming years Indian football can be even better and then they will have more good quality players.
There was a myth that whenever Sony Norde plays derby Mohun Bagan doesn't lose it. So that myth was broken this year. So, how did you cope up with that derby loss?
Sony Norde: Yeah, that’s why I tell you before, as a player you never want to miss the derby because any player knows there will be another emotion, another ambition. So for me, I don’t like to lose a derby Even you can ask me to play against any local players in practice when we play football 11 against 11. I will I always shout there because I do not like to lose like that derby we lost. Also, you know, it’s football. No team is invincible. So Mohun Bagan was losing the first derby and people were thinking that if I come back from my injury then I can make them dream again, so I played and I lost. It was the worst game in my life, I didn’t play well and not only me, the full team also didn’t play well. But we could not break because as a player you can lose, you can win, you can go up, you can come down. But the most important thing is you have to keep your head up and keep walking, learning from the mistake to make yourself stronger.
What was the reason for this year’s debacle?
Sony Norde: In my opinion, we did everything bad from beginning. I came here in September. On 28 October before the match against Gokhulam, we had election. There were 2 groups. One group signed some players while another group signed other players. The first mistake started from there. We have to have some plan. More professional planning is needed. We have to start everything from the scratch. It is not because of bad players and bad coach. We have to make everything right from the beginning. You have to go out there and give your best. However, this season not all players were at their best. I do not want to point any single player out. We all were not best and collectively Mohun Bagan did not perform well. This season is one to forget because as a team we did not perform well.
Which is you best goal in I-League?
Sony Norde:The goal scored from Katsumi’s pass in the Mumbai FC in Salt Lake stadium where we won 3-1 is my favorite. There are some other close contenders like the free kick against Royal Wahingdoh or East Bengal. However, as a player I choose this one as my best.
How you take criticism from fans?
Sony Norde: This is normal. What people saw in last 3-4 years makes them expect more. For example, I always have messages in Facebook and Instagram. I try to reply them whenever I have time. I get messages as if I am the only one who can make them dream. If you believe me and I do not perform well, everyone will think what happened to Sony. After injury, I thought we could have achieved something with this team. They won Kolkata league. Then in the first derby the team played so well with 10 men. However, not everything goes well always. I am not happy with my performance. This is probably my worst season in the club. I was returning from a big injury. It did not go as planned. I do not think badly of the supporters. I just think to do better from the next match. If they criticize me, it is because they know I can do better. I have to work harder to respect the belief.
What is better for Indian football ISL and Unified league?
Sony Norde: I think one league with 20 teams is wonderful. There will be more competition and more players. It will help national team also going forward.
You have played under different coaches in these years. So who has influenced you most?
Sony Norde: Sanjay Sen has been the best for me. For now, he is the best coach I played for in Indian football And then I appreciate him and respect him. Likewise he also respects me and we have a very good relationship.
Who is the best defender you have faced in India?
Sony Norde: John Johnson in Bengaluru FC
Who is the Best Indian Striker you have seen?
Sony Norde: Sunil Chetri, Jeje . Also I would like to mention Balwant Singh here.
Which one is your most memorable derby?
Sony Norde: The 1-0 win of Balwant’s goal in the year of I-League win. From that match we started to gain momentum.
Your Message for Supporters
Sony Norde: In this season, supporters were coming to stadium to support us and after we lost the derby they stopped coming to the matches. I heard there were some issues with flags. But Mohun Bagan will be here forever. Players will come and go. Players, however good they may be, will retire. But supporters will be here for the club. Don’t worry about players or any other people. I am always happy with the supporters and appreciate them for the love and respect they give me. I hope next season they will support Mohun Bagan as they have always done before, because Mohun Bagan is their team and you have to go out for your team and cheer the team from the stand. Joy Mohun Bagan.